ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 1 Afternoon Sessions

These are live blog notes from the 2012 ATypI in Hong Kong, 10 October 2012.

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the event, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect it is because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately ( – or post a comment.

CID Keyed fonts – Ken Lunde

Everything used in the workshop will be published on the Adobe CJK forum.

CID Keyed fonts are notoriously hard to work with.

They enable things like different hinting zones for difference scripts in the same font, with more than one FDArray element. Its easy to control FDarray elemenets.

The end game is making an OpenType CFF font. Almost all AFDKO tools support CID keyed fonts

Everything I show here scales to 10,000+ glyph fonts. This demo uses a Japanese font but applies to Chinese fonts too.

tx is a very useful tool. `tx -pdf fontfile` produces a glyph synopsis. Its 73 pages for this large font. Often you want to look at a subset. `tx -pdf -g /1200-/1299 fontfile` – this runs faster as its a subset 🙂

` -r -s fontfile.otf` will extract CIDs from the font in the text format needed as input to tx. `` will also work; GIDs must be contigious and it will extract eg `0-17499`.

`` Checks the structure of the FDArray element. The output can be repurposed by copy and paste; we can put this into `tx -pdf` so you can see all the glyphs associated with that FDArray element.

[I bailed to see lectures]

Shades of grey: a look at how the brain processes typographic information – Myra Thiessen

[10 mins late]

All were right handed. So we showed letters one at a time wired up with EEG gear, awhen wht y saw 2 of the same letter in a row (regardless of typeface) they hit a button. The letters and numbers were randomised.

Fluent type were Times New Roman and ARial, and Disfluent were Edwardian SCript and Lucida Blackletter. These are in the Windows bundle. We had 2 groups of 4 letters, e c a o are rounded and at x height, and i l t f which are thin and tall. The x heights matched at 90px and reading distance was 30cm. The stimuli was on screen obvoiusly.

Results! The x on the line graph is time in miliseconds, its PRE ATTENTIONAL. Before the individual is aware they’re looking at something. The consciousness hasn’t processed it. it takes 300ms for that to happen. There is a time that the brain is aware that there is a sensation before cognition. This is shown in pink area. We can see in the left hemisphere there is a big difference between fluent and disfluent type.

There is a significant differnet in the left hemisphere between fluent and disfluent typefaces. The peak/trough in the graph means the brain is engaging more and its doing more for the disfluent type. The difference being right handed means language processing happens more in the left hemisphere.

So these results match what Diemand-Yauman’s study said, the brain is working harder to read disfluent type. But does that mean less cognitive capacity is available for higher order functions, like the gorilla in the room.


* EEG can tell us things with data about legibility and how the brain processes typographic information that behavioral tasks cant

* another point

* some other point

Typography on medicine labels: user studies on typeface, type size and spatial cueing for senior citizens in Hong Kong – Brian Kwok / Keith Tam

Brian: … 96% felt type size should increase from 12.5pt to 16pt or more, and KaiTi font was a favourite. Is 16pt really appropriate? Is KaiTi really the best? And does point size really improve legibility?

Is it possible to use 16pt on labels? Not really because the label size is fixed, the invest a lot of money in the whole labeling system. The content is legislated and must contain all that is there.

SungTi has high stroke contrast, HeiTi has no contrast, and KaiTi has a brush stroke modulation. This means the height for the same point size is quite different.

So we scaled the type to be uniform height. So we had 6 labels to test, each font at the same point size and each at the same height.

We looked at the text that the public hospitals use; there are 315 possible instructions. We looked at the longest and counted the number of strokes. We found 4 classes, 108 chars with 1-6 strokes, 200 with 7-12 strokes, 122 with 13-18, and 23 with 19-24, for 443 total characters.

We interviweed 79 educated seniors and ran 5 tests. …


HeiTi is the more preferable font, with better contrast. But it causes many errors in the reading test. The Regulation should be about font height too not just point size.

16pt can’t work with the public hospital.

Re-trans-formation of Chinese typography – Jackson Choi / Monica Chiu / Sylvia To

Jackson: In our school we learn latin typography. for learning chinese typography, our output is often not as good. we struggle to apply what we learn about latin typgoraphy. We asked students to manipulate a chinese typeface to make custom forms, since they typically fall back on system fonts.

We see chinese characters as living coenpts, not ancient relics. Type is all around us and is evolving. We want to have an experimental learning environment and personal engagement from students. How to get students engaged is tough, so we asked them to look at their chinese names and make a logotype for their name. We don’t read stroke by stroke, we read the overall character form. This make students curious about chinese type because the forms are familiar yet alien.

Monica: We came up with a modular framework for these workshops. We had 2 parts, a literature review for rational knowledge and a practical part. We asked students to break down the structure of chinese characters and draw these structures on a grid. Another workshop used art material and artifacts to explore the type forms with texture and emotion.

Students start by knowing and imitating forms and move to appreciate and express them in their own way. This leads to transforming and interpreting the forms.

We saw that our graduates win more awards after we introduced this course, which seems to show it helps. To have fun is a key aspect of learning and we achieved this.

Sylvia: A transformation workshop looked at poster design. …

Jackson: Our focus is not on creating full typefaces but to enable better chinese display typography. We asked,

What did they learn from the modules? How did this interest them in chinese typography? New areas of interest? How did this effect their design abilities and professional work? 75% said this raised their interested in chinese culture and heritage. 80% said it helped them in their jobs and 60% used the skills directly. 63% of clients or bosses said craetive display type is unique and eye catching. But 23% thought it was a useless waste of time 😉

In 2006 30% of students made lettering and in 2012 80%.

16:00 And we forgot about the time: flow, type and graphic design – Chris Ro

[5 mins late]

I was into architecture and then went into graphic design. In architecture I couldnt be invovled in the whole process. In graphic design I could be. I love the instant form making. I love thinking about having type move, playing with the forms. I think of Angus Young from AC/DC and how he is when playing, and how graphic designers are when they are working. Glum, hunched over a computer.

Flow state is a subjective thing. I interviewed a lot of designers, about flow states in design. It was more about graphic design.

Many designers said computers themselves reduced flow. They felt mastery of a computer is impossible. The immateriality of a screen, its not tactile. Designers love working with their hands. The screen is flat, its a blocking point of flow. CTRL-Z makes designers careless. I read Matthew Carter say in the old days that before CTRL-Z he would choose what is doing more carefully.

Keybaord and mouse was made for word processing, not design. Interfaces, the CS UI is a model that is 22 years old. Tool bar on the left, palettes, mouse buttons.

A funny graphic for career evolution of Motion Graphics designers. and as you progress you do less design work and more email.

I found that positive associations with flow were about typography; Keywords with type were felt to have lots of flow. Designers set up their grid, their sizes and proptions, and then laying out the content with a typeface on their design system was great and had lots of flow.

So future study, we can look at physical interactions with typgraphy and …

16:25 Creation of two original type families intended for reading contents on electronic media – Andre Baldinger / Philippe Millot / Thomas L’Excellent / Virginie Poilièvre / Christina Poth / Haruko Sumi

We were 126 students, and we made ELT Foundry. Our studio is like a science lab, we have research topics chosen by directors, 4 students involved and 6 people working 2 years on it.

ELT Gaston

We used interpolation and discussed in the group which option was best.

ELT Incision

This was designed as a pixel font first. We looked at Corbel, Verdana and Droid Sans. We did some nice pixel traps here. We chose cursive a and g for open counters. We looked at a interpolated set of weights all together and in context with regular weight, and we chose the type we all thought worked best. Similarly for the italic angle, looking at it all together, in context with regular, and also as rasterised type. Here are our tests on various devices.

We are considering releasing them at the end of the year, with a reference book, a bibliography, and a concice chronology.

17:00 From the ashes of war and oppression: Korean font development at the turn of the 20th century – Fritz Park

We are a research magazine, very new, started in April 2012, research is our main focus, we are looking at Korean typography. The history is vague. 1900-1950. Opression> Japanese occupation was 1910 to 1945, and infleunce started in 1880s. The Korean war was 1950-53, the start of the cold war.

Korean langauge was banned, hangul repressed, a ‘bantu’ education, and japanes names were enforced. The N/S war isnt over just a ceasefire.

Metal type was often melted to be reused as metal.

There was a 40+ year cultural black out. It wasn’t until 63 that rebuilding started.

A little about Hangul: there are three main elements, a dot for sky, a line for earth, and a bar for man. . _ | This is a zen appraoch to writing. Its a system for vowels. There was an inner reasoning; similar pronunciations have similar forms. Consonants have shapes similar to the shape of a mouth or in nature. Confucious philosphy was prevalent and influenced this.

Complex pronunciations have an extra stoke or are otherwise derivative from the base form. Non aspirated sounds, there is doubling of symbols.

The baseline can be hidden in Hangul. Its read left to right to bottom. It was originally meant to be read top to bottom on a page.

All the vowel and consonant structures are meant to fit into a 5×5 grid.

Korean type designers juggle the vowel and consonant shapes in each character. They are all unique. Shape and size vary. As more syllables are added, the color becomes hard to keep even.

What happened in typography in the cultural black out time?

1880-1954 is the ‘new letter era’ or ‘new printing era’ – Electrotype, we found no punchcutters from this time, so electrotype was very prevalent. Counterpunches don’t work well with the hangul shapes. All the technology was brought to Asia by missionaries and remade in Japan and reimported into Korea.

This image is from Ji Hoon Parl, Mushashino Univeristy, who helped provide may images for our research. We see that in 1880 the euro left to right reading order was introduced. Here is an 1881 with the traditional vertical reading order.

Hangul was bought and sold as type in 1896 as we can see from this type specimen. Its hard to research WHO type designers from this time were.

1954-1990 was the ‘original drawing era’ which ahs 2 parts, matrix cutting machine era in 1954 (official trade documents show their import here) but didn’t really start to be used until 1956. And photo type setting era 1970-1990.

Here are copper plate matrices used with a pantograph to etch punches. The original drawings! These are by Jung ho Choi, a famous designer from that time.

Phototype. In korea we tend to just dispose old technology, not preserve it, but we do have a phototype machine that is preserved. We can see the craft and detail that was put into them.


A lot more work needs to be done. The history of Hangul needs to be reassed, arhcived and documented.

I want to thank many professors who helped, including Ji hoon Park, Eun You Noh of Ahn Graphics, also the Text Book Museum, and many others.

Why are we doing this? Many people do restoration of old fonts. Neu Haas Grotesque is typical. In Korean, we dont have the well established history, so we dont have these revivals. This is an effort to lay down a foudation for that kind of work.

Q: What about contemporary type design?

A: We are looking at the first generation and the 2nd generation of designers. The period from 1990 is a 3rd.

– – –

Keith Tam: We covered a lot of topics today! I hope you enjoyed them all! Tomorrow we look more at the technology. Thanks to our sponsors!

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  1. By TypeCon 2012 Conference Trip Report | Slanted Hall on 15 October, 2012 at 1:34 am

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